Summertime Fitness: A Short Guide to Pursuing Your Fitness Goals Over The Summer Months

Summertime Fitness: A Short Guide to Pursuing Your Fitness Goals Over The Summer Months
            When it comes to exercising in the summer, there are several key factors to take into account when planning your workout:

1)   Hydration Status
2)   Electrolyte & Salt levels
3)   Exercise Clothing & UV Radiation
4)   Weather & Other Environmental Factors


A good table to refer to when considering your hydration status can be found below. In it you can see that a well-hydrated state in one in which your body weight is between -1% to 1% of what it was when you began exercising. Remember, unless you are burning 3500+ calories during your workout (you aren’t), the pounds of weight you’re losing are almost entirely water. Losses in body fat occur on a larger time scale, so keep your body weight normalized during your workout and focus on net-deficits in body weight over periods of weeks.

% Body Weight Change
Well Hydrated
-1 to +1 %
Minimal Dehydration
- 1 to -3%
Significant Dehydration
-3 to -5%
Serious Dehydration
          Figure 1 – Hydration level scaled to body weight
           changes during a workout

           That said, if you’re training hard and building muscle mass your overall body weight may not change (or potentially increase) while your body composition transitions to a more lean state. Base your progress on how you feel and perform, not the number on the scale. This will help motivate you to stay hydrated, have more effective workouts, and look better in the grand scheme. As long as you’re not thirsty, you should be in the well-hydrated zone so drink reasonable amounts of water throughout your workouts.

           Related to hydration status are your electrolyte and salt levels, which will inevitably change over the course of a hard summer workout. Electrolytes are vital elements for the initiation and propagation of the electrical impulses that enable your muscles to contract and relax. The utilization of those electrolytes by your muscle cells during exercise, combined with the loss of sodium through sweat, contribute to disturbance in one’s electrolytic balance over the course of a long session. These disturbances are greatly amplified in hot environments where rates of water loss via sweating are increased. Therefore it is incredibly important to replenish those electrolytes actively throughout your workout to prevent cramping and decrements in performance. A balanced electrolytic formula helps in this endeavor. If this is unavailable to you, simply consuming a fluid with sodium and potassium will help.

            The physical qualities of the environment during the summer months are such that the style of your exercise clothing will have to change by necessity in order for you to maximize your training efficiency, especially when exercising outdoors. Because increases in heat will increase your core body temperature, your body will respond by increasing your breathing and sweating rates in order to shed that excess heat. The most effective way your body can shed heat is through evaporation. When exercising, your superficial peripheral capillaries will dilate so that more blood will circulate close to the surface of your skin. The blood in these capillaries contains heat, which is transferred to the surface of your body through direct conductance. The less material you’re wearing, the more effectively your body will be able to lose that heat through the evaporation of sweat. Layers (particularly of the non-sweat wicking variety) trap sweat on the surface of the skin and prevent evaporation from occurring, leaving you overheated and compromising your performance capacity.  


            An important variable to consider when ditching the layers is sunlight and UV radiation. Remember to use appropriate amounts of high SPF sunscreen to prevent burning if you’re working outside on a sunny day. You can also limit your sun exposure by exercising in the shade.

            With the high pressure and heat of summer comes the inevitable volatility in weather systems that may affect your workout. Some factors to consider include rain, lightning, dry air, extreme heat, and air pollutants. It is important to monitor weather reports so that you are aware of changes in these variables that may impact your workout. While it’s fine to exercise in the rain, remember to wear clothes that are water resistant/repellant so that you don’t have to perform in damp, soggy clothing or shoes. If there’s lightning in the mix, take that workout inside. Hydration and electrolyte supplementation become extremely important in conditions of dry air and extreme heat so bring extra water and a balanced electrolytic formula to sip on. If there are high levels of dense air pollutants and particulate matter, protect your lungs by working out indoors or on forested trails where exposure to urban contaminants is limited.

            Summer is a great time to exercise outdoors! Just remember to pay attention to the conditions of your environment and prepare accordingly to optimize the efficacy of your training and maximize your results.



Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.